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Starting from the debate on democratic decline, this article introduces the concept of ‘mainstreaming authoritarianism’ in a bid to turn attention to the role and agency of traditional political actors in the process. The article summarises key findings of relevant studies on autocratisation and highlights issues with the many concepts employed to describe the problem. It moves on to define authoritarianism and suggests a turn towards practice-based approaches. This facilitates the analysis of authoritarian discourses and practices of mainstream political actors in established democracies and helps bridge the gap between social psychology-based and political science-based classic conceptualisations of authoritarianism. Testing the hypothesis that authoritarianism has been mainstreamed, the author develops a comparative survey of the actions and practices of key political actors in Europe, concluding with a note on the importance of acknowledging this authoritarian turn, dealing with its consequences and focussing on the role of agency.